3 lessons for every mom bringing up boys in her family. Keep these tips in mind as you’re raising confident boys. A must-read for all moms of boys!
After I had my eldest, I thought the ideal sibling combo would be to give my son a little sister. I even had a name for her—Naomi. So imagine my surprise when I learned I would not only have twins, but that both would be boys.
And the comments flooded in, and continue even today:
“Whoa, you must be tired!”
“You’re going to be a soccer mom.”
“So, are you going to try for a girl?”
Moms of boys, you know what I’m talking about. Whether you have one boy or three (or more!), we need to be conscious of bringing up boys. I used to think we should disregard gender in parenting. That we feed the fire when we parent according to whether our kids are girls or boys. That we’re succumbing to the stereotypes.
3 lessons all moms of boys needs to teach
I learned we should teach our children lessons that do arise because of their genders. Boys and girls are different, and not always in a bad way. And not always in every typical way. Being moms of boys means teaching them values we’d want them to hold even as adults.
1. Be kind and gentle
Kindness in boys can get lost, especially when we assume or value anything but. We praise their assertiveness, their speed, their ambitions. But we don’t always applaud them for their gentle and kind ways.
Let’s teach our boys that being kind and gentle goes a long way. We’re bringing up boys who:
- Befriend a classmate who may not be as popular as others
- Care for animals, from pets to insects
- Appreciate nature and all it can offer us
- Comfort a sibling when she feels sad or hurt
- Can show empathy to others
2. Don’t put girls down
I get it. The cooties. The inclination for children to befriend same-sex friends. The phases we all go through when we don’t like girls or boys.
But we can do much to teach our boys to treat girls well. Yes, this is a phase everyone seems to go through. But it doesn’t mean we should brush aside inappropriate behavior or comments. Correct them when they say girls suck. “Actually, girls are pretty awesome, like boys are.” Or refrain from teasing when they befriend a girl in class (“Oooh, is she your girlfriend?”).
All kids will go through stages where they behave in a strange way to sort their own feelings and confusion about the opposite sex. They’ll also follow social influence and peer pressure. But as moms of boys, we can teach them to respect girls despite all that.
3. Explore your interests (whatever they may be).
What’s your typical boy? You might imagine lots of cars, trains, trucks and airplanes. Maybe a science or engineering kit. And of course sports—soccer, baseball, hockey.
What if your son has no interest in any of that? What if his interests are so far away from your expectations? Whereas you imagined soccer practice, he’s much rather do theater or music.
What if his interests seem strange to you, regardless of gender? He’s fascinated with vacuum cleaners or waterfalls or collecting rocks. Things you never knew would even interest kids.
Being moms of boys doesn’t mean assuming you’ll be a soccer mom or doing typical boy things. Our boys should be able to explore any interest, regardless of what they may be. Whether they fit into our expectations or hopes for them. Even if they’re so different from how we thought boys should be raised or expected to behave.
Allow your boys to be who they are and be curious about their world. Even if it doesn’t always fit into typical boy things.
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Regardless of how far we’ve come, men continue to have an unfair advantage over women. We reward men’s ambitions and scoff women’s. We see leaders in men and supporting roles in women. And many of the stereotypes we hold about each gender continues to play out, for good or bad.
So it’s exciting and humbling to think about raising a generation of future adults. Our kids will shape the world, whether in big ways or small. Let’s raise boys who will be gentle and kind as they are ambitious and strong. Boys who will respect and work with girls, rather than see them as secondary. And boys who are free to pursue any passions, no matter how strange or “typically boy” they may be.
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And check out A Boy Like You by Frank Murphy, a beautiful children’s book celebrating boys for being who they are: